(A line by line historical analysis of the accusations of the Declaration of Independence.)
XVI. For cutting of our trade with all parts of the world.
The narrow, restrictive policy of Great Britain, begun as early as the middle of the seventeenth century, had a tendency to repress, rather than to encourage, the commerce of the colonies. Instead of allowing them free commercial intercourse with other nations, the home government did all in its power to compel the colonists to trade exclusively with Great Britain.1 In 1764, the British Minister, under a pretence of preventing illegal traffic between the British colonies and foreign American possessions, made the naval commanders revenue officers--directed them to take the usual custom-house oaths--and to conform to the custom-house regulations. By this means a profitable trade with the Spanish and French colonies in America, which the colonists had long uninterruptedly enjoyed, (although in violation of the old Navigation Act,) was destroyed. This trade was advantageous to Great Britain as well as to the colonies; but as the enforcement of these laws was a part of the system of "reforming the American governments,"2 began by Bute, the advantages to England were over-looked. Under this act, many seizures of vessels were made ; and the Americans were so distressed and harassed, that they were obliged to abandon the trade.
Other measures, having a tendency to narrow the commerce of the colonies to a direct trade with Great Britain, were adopted; and finally, in 1775, among the acts projected by Lord North for punishing the colonies, was one for effectually stopping the commerce of New England with Great Britain, Ireland, and the West Indies, and also fishing on the Banks of Newfoundland. This restrictive act, first applied to the New England colonies, was afterward extended to all the others, and thus, as far as parliamentary enactments could effect it, "trade with all parts of the world" was cut off.
1 The Navigation Act, first adopted in 1651, and extended in 1660, declared that no merchandise of the English plantations should be imported into England in any other than English vessels. There were also restrictive laws respecting the manufactures of the colonies, and their domestic commerce. For the benefit of English manufacturers, the colonists were forbidden to export, or introduce from one colony into another, hats and woollens of domestic manufacture; and hatters were forbidden to have, at one time, more than two apprentices. They were not allowed to import sugar, rum, and molasses, without paying an exorbitant duty, and forbade the erection of certain iron works.
2 See Gordon, vol. i., p. 108.
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